How to Reinstall Older Versions of Apps on your iPhone or iPad

You just downloaded the latest update of your favorite app to your iPhone, but the new version crashes and the old version is no longer available in the App Store. Are you out of luck until the fix is released? Maybe not. If you downloaded the update on your iPhone only (not in your computer’s iTunes), here’s one way to downgrade back to a previous version of an app.

One pretty big update (09/25/15)

Newer versions of iTunes combined with iOS9 may delete your old copies of apps instead of moving them to the trash like previous versions did. Hopefully, you are backing up your computer to Time Machine or another comprehensive backup. If you’ve got any incremental backup, you can definitely restore your old copies of apps from that.

Sadly, it looks like Apple removed their hand but short-lived “Download Previous Versions…” feature years ago.

Good luck!

If you downloaded a broken update to your iPhone, don’t update apps in iTunes yet. You’ll be using the old copy of the app that’s still stored in your iTunes library.

Delete the app on your iPhone by pressing the app’s icon for several seconds. The apps will start to jiggle and a small X will appear in the upper lefthand corner. Press the X of the app you want to delete. You’ll be asked to rate the app; it’s up to you. Press the home button after the app is gone from the screen to stop the jiggling and get out of delete mode.

Then, connect your iPhone to your computer. In iTunes, select iPhone or iPod touch (below Devices), and then click the Applications tab. Select “Sync Applications”. In your iPhone’s Applications list, the app is now deselected, but it’s still there. Select the app and sync. The old version will copy back to your iPhone.

If the app is broken, it’s probably not a good idea to “Update All” until you know it’s been fixed. You can update all your other apps one at a time.

This technique only works if you haven’t updated your iTunes copy of the app. If it’s also been updated, you’re out of luck until the developer releases a fix. If you’re crafty, you could pull an older copy of the app from your Time Machine backup (you *do* back up your computer, right?). This trick doesn’t work with jailbroken apps.

Sometimes apps go all the way through the development and approval processes with some undetected bugs. If you happen to download one of them, this is one of the ways to revert back to a working version.

UPDATE: Reader Patrick Timney (SCW) sent me a great tip if you’ve already updated both iPhone and iTunes. He’s given me permission to pass it on here. Thanks, Pat!

If users have a Mac, just look in the Trash. iTunes throws all previous versions in there. So retrieve the app from trash, delete the new version from Applications in iTunes, then drag & drop the previous version into your Applications section of iTunes. Select & sync & you’re golden.

UPDATE 05.05.11 @ 11:48: Reader Marissa points out in the comments below another fail-safe if you have a Mac and are using Time Machine to back up their Mac (you are backing your computer up, right?).

I managed to drag and drop an older version from my time machine into my iTunes app section and revert back to the older (working) version.



About Marty Yawnick 1826 Articles
Marty is a self-employed graphic designer in the Fort Worth/Dallas Metroplex. He is an avid Rangers baseball, Chicago Cubs, Packers and Highbury Arsenal fan. In addition to capturing random moments with whatever camera is close by (usually his iPhone), his other interests include coffee, film, music, and traveling in seats 5E and 5F with his fiancé.
  • Tomba

    After a while using my iPhone and looking for every single update i could get i learned my lesson.

    Thats why i keep always the old version in a different folder on my disk before i make itunes update.

    Saved me two times a working version before the developer delivered an update. Another app was overloaded after update and i keep version 1 which has everything i want and is easier to use for me.

  • James

    The trick about looking in the trash works for Windows users, as well. If you haven't emptied the Recycle Bin you'll find the older version of the app that iTunes discards there when updating.

  • Marissa

    THANKS SO MUCH FOR THIS! I managed to drag and drop an older version from my time machine into my iTunes app section and revert back to the older (working) version. What a relief. The new one crashes at startup. So irritating.

    • I'm glad I could help. And thanks for the idea of checking Time Machine. It's a great idea and I'm updating this post to add that.

      Thanks, Marissa!


  • Digital Artist

    Any word from the developer on this?

    Really like to see what the developer has to say and if he will re-add the missing GREAT stuff back. I like to keep the update but NOT see the change move to not so good additions or removals.

    Comments welcome…

  • Nancy Harp

    Grrrr. Don’t like new “updated” version

  • Anna

    I have done this before, not because an updated app crashed, but because I was dissatisfied with the changes in the app. I reinstalled the older version and was able to run it until the developer forced me to update in order to continue using it!

    I have not updated my iPhone 4 to the newest software (6.0? I am still running 5.1 I think) our of stubbornness. It is helpful for me to be able to revert back to old versions of apps using this method.

    However, some recent app downloads I have been unhappy with. I read reviews from when the app was released, and see raves about great features that have apparently been rwmoved from the app. Cinemagram is my primary example. I have version 2.0, but would love to be able to try out an earlier version. Anyone know of a way I can do that? Maybe find another user who still has the old version backed up into their computer, and replace my file with their older one? I am using iTunes on Windows 8. No access to a Mac.

  • Marianne

    Thank you !!! Thash trick works with Windows too when the iPhone as been sync we can find the older app (.IPA) in the trash and put it back on once the newer app as been deleted from iTunes app section (Not the iPhone one) because the app will remain in iTunes !

  • Thommy_

    I understood this and did it already several times. But how to revert an iPhone app on an iPad to an older version? iTunes doesn’t display iPhone apps in the list of the iPad’s apps.

  • pdirt

    Am I right this method will only work assuming that at some point in my Ipad’s history I have synced the apps in itunes? I’ve never done so, in fact this is the first time I’ve accessed the ipad within itunes. No apps are shown in itunes. So if I do sync, it will be syncing the exact version of the app I am wanting to downgrade from, correct? Or will I be okay to do this method as written, since I have not synced since updating the app (since I’ve NEVER synced before)? Thanks!

    • pdirt

      I should note that 60 apps are listed within itunes, but it only shows the screens of my ipad and the icons for those ipads, which can be rearranged. The list of “Apps>sort by” is blank.

  • Patrick

    doesn’t work.

  • Rose

    But what if I want to download it for the first time (ie) without having a backup?

    • Marty Yawnick

      Hi, Rose! Thank you for stopping by! Unfortunately, if your account has never purchased the app before and it’s currently not available in the App Store, there’s no other way to download an app. =M=